Eighty-six U.S. soldiers died in Iraq in October, making it one of the war's deadliest months. Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies considers a withdrawal of U.S. troops in this first part of a series on Iraq views.
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Some calm came to Baghdad today as the conclusion of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, arrived. The holiday marking its end, called the Feast of Eid, is normally a time of celebration and fun. And despite the dire security situation in the capital, these families made the most of it at an amusement park.
Many Iraqi civilians again risked injury and death to head to mosque, to pray at the close of Ramadan today. But in Baghdad and countrywide, the past month saw increased attacks, a continued cycle of sectarian killings and reprisals, and a grim new milestone: October has been the deadliest month of this year for U.S. troops in Iraq; 86 have died.
At the White House Saturday, the president met with his top commander for Iraq, General John Abizaid, and others. A New York Times report suggested a timetable is being presented to the Iraqi government to get the security situation under control.
The administration quickly rebutted that report. Today, the White House press secretary tried to play it down.
TONY SNOW, White House Press Secretary:
The problem we have a lot of times when we talk about this is that there are constantly adjustments being made. So in that sense, there are new things going on. But are there dramatic shifts in policy? The answer is no.
Still, Iraq policy and the way forward drew much debate on the Sunday news talk shows.
SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), Delaware: I mean, the truth of the matter is, there's a need for radical change in policy. There's a need for a political solution in Iraq and a bipartisan solution here at home. Without those two things happening, there is no possibility, in my view, we succeed in Iraq.
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), Virginia: We should not set timetables. We should not indicate a fixed lock-in, because the situation is very dynamic. It's gotten worse; it's gotten fractured. You've got Shia-on-Shia now, Sunni-on-Sunni, al-Qaida moving into al-Anbar.
This is a fragile situation. We've got to remain confident that we can make this government work, not victory this, that or the other thing. Make the government work,
Yesterday, as Baghdadis shopped in preparation for the Eid feast, a suicide bomber in a vehicle tore up the marketplace, killing at least nine. And in Mahmoudiya, just south of Baghdad, the target was again holiday shoppers among busy, crowded stalls; 19 people were killed by a bomber on a bicycle.
The U.N. has said, on average, a hundred Iraqis are killed every day. Last week, the top U.S. commander in Iraq called the situation "disheartening," and the military has admitted it's failed in its recent effort to make Baghdad more secure by sending thousands more U.S. troops into the capital.